ZAGREB, October 2, 2020 (Hina) — The United States requests Croatia not to hand over strategic projects to China. National security must be a priority and must not be put at risk, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Hina in an interview on Friday.
The Communist Party submits tenders, and they are the cheapest, but the risk for citizens is high. We trust that the Croatian leadership will make good decisions for its people, Pompeo said.
“As a NATO member, Croatia must protect its strategic priorities. They must also stay safe from those who want to work in a way that we wouldn’t work with one another. This is the only thing we are asking.”
Pompeo said the same thing to other European countries. The American administration is concerned about the spread of China’s influence and Huawei’s participation in building 5G networks worldwide. They claim that the Chinese telecommunications giant would hand over information to Beijing, which would use it for espionage.
United States: China Only Wants to Take Money from Croatia
Croatia has started introducing 5G networks in its cities. The government decided at the beginning of the year that Osijek would be the first city to get 5G technology. Bjelovar, Karlovac and Rijeka have also expressed their interest in the wireless infrastructure.
“When you cooperate with Chinese companies, that cooperation is deeply connected to a security apparatus. Therefore, information could reach places where no Croatian citizen would want it to reach,” the United States Secretary Pompeo explained.
“If you have a secure network and IT system, then private data and information can be safe. If you have a (Chinese) company which is not transparent and invests in a predatory way, they can use information in a way that no Croatian citizen would support,” he said.
Croatia has increased cooperation with China in recent years. Most notably, China Road and Bridge Corporation, a Chinese company, is building the Pelješac bridge, which is the biggest infrastructure project in Croatia.
“They (the Chinese) came here just to take money from Croatia,” the American head of diplomacy added.
China Investing More in Central and Southeast Europe
Croatia is also part of the China 17+1 initiative, a platform for cooperation between China and Central and Eastern Europe. The initiative is an integral part of its megaproject “One Belt One Road” — a modern Silk Road and one of the most ambitious projects in the world.
In recent years, China, a world power with more than 1.3 billion citizens, has started investing more in Central and Southeast Europe. However, the USA is working on globally reducing the Chinese influence.
“We are asking every country to make good decisions on behalf of their citizens. A prime minister of a sovereign country has the right to make the best decision for his citizens,” said the head of US Department of State.
Before arriving in Dubrovnik, Pompeo told the press “So you have the Chinese working to make investments in Italy and throughout Europe. We’ve said if it’s a commercial deal straight-up, that’s just great.”
“But we know how often Chinese companies show up. It’s their security apparatus and state-owned enterprises which are operating both in a subsidized and predatory manner. So, we always want to do everything we can to make sure that competition around the world is free, fair, transparent and operates on a reciprocal basis.”
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